Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/26

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10
THE PYRENEES

Hardly a grotto that has been explored does not reveal that these men had lived there.

There are not many megalithic monuments to the north of the chain, but sufficient remain to show us that the dolmen-builder occupied the land from sea to sea. At Buzy, near the entrance to the Val d'Ossau, is a fine dolmen. I saw it first in 1850; it had been recently dug out by a treasure- seeker. A peasant told me that the man who had rifled it had found a bar of gold so soft that he could bend it. In fact, it consisted of pure gold without alloy. Near the dolmen lay a slab of red sandstone, with circles carved on it, some concentric, much like the carvings on the stones of Gavr'innis, in Brittany, and in the great covered way at Drogheda, in Ireland. Not having a drawing book with me nor a scale, all I could do at the time was to sketch the sculpture on my cuff. Three weeks later I revisited Buzy to make a careful drawing to scale of the slab, and found that in the meantime it had been broken up by the road-menders.

The road from Pau to Tarbes traverses a vast plateau, rising 300 feet above the plain of the Adour. It is composed of marshy moorland covered with fern and gorse. This is actually the old moraine deposited by the glacier of Argelez. It is made up of angular blocks brought down from the mountains, excellent material from which to construct mortuary cells. And on this plateau we find tumuli in remarkable abundance. This, as well as Lannemezan, must have served as huge cemeteries. Of late these cairns have been excavated, and prove to cover dolmens and covered avenues; one, the Grande Butte of the lande of Pontacq, contains a megalithic chamber, recalling the finest monuments of the kind in Brittany.

The tumulus of La Hallade had been violated in the Iron